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San Francisco Business Strategist Appreciates Her Liberal Arts Education

Lori Hokeness is the Senior Talent Acquisition Advisor and Business Strategist for TIAA-CREF. She manages the West Coast Talent Acquisition team for the company's Wealth Management division. They add value to their organizational goals by acquiring the industry's best talent. It's a role that's a hybrid of recruiting, strategic planning and client relationship management. In order to achieve the company's goals, Hokeness' job requires constant innovation through technology to attract top talent into the firm.

(Photo Courtesy of Lori Hokeness)

Hokeness holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in management from the College of St. Benedict.

What are the scope and responsibilities of your current role?

"This role requires you to identify how a candidate's goals, objectives and experience align to the firm's hiring needs. We want our talent to find a long-term home with us; therefore, we must be best in class with not only our value proposition, but recognize every interaction has an impact in the decision-making process. This is a fast-paced environment that holds a lot of variety. In addition to recruiting talent, on any given day, I may be working on designing a talent attraction strategy, conducting market research, launching a social media campaign, attending a diversity networking event or streamlining our hiring process. Here at TIAA-CREF, as a leading financial services institution, there are always special projects and strategic initiatives underway that make this role interesting. I consider every person I speak with as a client (our leadership, internal partners or candidates), and integrating this perspective into our team culture enables us to deliver exceptional hiring experiences and have fun along the way."

What is your favorite part of your daily duties?

"I enjoy the challenge of being a trusted advisor in the decision-making process; it's not easy to take a new job or to make a hiring decision, so it is always rewarding to see the job acceptance. Witnessing our hires' success here over time is the most rewarding."

Do you feel your education prepared you for your current role?

"Absolutely. My liberal arts education expanded how I view and appreciate multiple perspectives; I use this skill-set every day when speaking with candidates and enjoy learning their unique stories."

Do you have any advice for people who desire to pursue a similar career?

"Make sure your core strengths and interests align to the business or topics in which you are most excited about, or that you already have knowledge about to stand out. For example, I thrive in communicating with people, love high-energy environments and have an innate need to match a need to a solution. My prior experience within wealth management has been instrumental to my success in my current role. Networking is critical – even internally across multiple HR functions. You can use that network to set up informational sessions among HR colleagues as well as externally reaching out to your university alumni organization.  I have found that we are a tight-knit community and like to lend a hand to our industry peers."

Michelle Guilbeau is a writer, reviewer, teacher and business owner. She also has experience in school administration, literacy coaching and is proud founder of and Michelle enjoys sharing her knowledge of cities, food, travel, education and parenting issues with her readers. Her work can be found on

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